Hindus have been awaiting with bated breath for seven long years, in the hope that the distorted history currently being taught in our schools to impressionable young minds will be changed. Hopes were raised, albeit misleadingly, after the New Education Policy (NEP) was finally introduced last year and plans were initiated for a new National Curriculum Framework (NCF) for school education.
The new NCF was expected to be ready by March 2021, post which National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) was expected to make changes in the textbooks in accordance with the new NCF. The NCF has been revised previously in 1975, 1988, 2000 and 2005.
However, as per a September 22, 2021 Hindustan Times article, the Union education ministry has just constituted a 12-member steering committee to develop the new national curriculum framework (NCF). The committee will be headed by ISRO scientist K Kasturirangan, who had also led the NEP 2020 drafting committee. Officials at the education ministry said the timeline for the development of new framework is three years. No explanation has been provided on why a task that was initially targeted for completion in 9 months, has now been delayed for a further 3 years.
Meanwhile, academics at NCERT have moved ahead with lightening speed on their priority: addressing “gender disparities in education”. They just released a new publication titled Inclusion of Transgender Children in School Education: Concerns and Roadmap. The project was coordinated by Dr Poonam Agrawal, Professor and former Head, Department of Gender Studies, NCERT. Yes, we now have a separate Department for Gender Studies within NCERT.
A Firstpost article excitedly describes the contents of this new roadmap which will be used to train teachers and teacher educators, besides forming an input to curriculum designers. Here are some extracts from the article:
“The training material explains concepts such as gender identity, gender incongruence, gender dysphoria, gender affirmation, gender expression, gender conformity, gender variance, heterosexuality, homosexuality, asexuality, bisexuality, transnegativity, among various others, through a detailed glossary. It also provides definitions of terms that people use to identify themselves; some of these are gender fluid, agender, transfeminine, and transmasculine.
The project team includes Dr Bittu Kaveri Rajaraman-Kondaiah, an Associate Professor of Biology and Psychology at Ashoka University, Vikramaditya Sahai, an Associate at the Centre for Law and Policy Research, and Priya Babu, the Managing Trustee at Transgender Resource Centre.
…Dr Agrawal says that the NCERT will use this training material in all its training programmes, and also encourage the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) in every state and the District Institute for Education and Training (DIET) in every district to use this material.
The NCERT’s training material lists out a number of practical strategies for making schools sensitive and inclusive for transgender and gender non-conforming children. These strategies include provision of gender-neutral toilets and uniforms, sensitisation on non-teaching staff, discontinuing practices that segregate children into various school activities based on their gender, creation of support groups in schools, inviting transgender speakers on campus etc.”
Some of the organizations which provided inputs to the project team: Solidarity and Action Against The HIV Infection in India (SAATHII); Sangraha project – focus on ending violence and discrimination against LGBTIQ+ persons across various domains, including education in Manipur, Telangana, and Odisha; Vistaara project – conducted a review of language textbooks for Standards VIII-XII in English, Gujarati, Malayalam, and Tamil since 2017 in partnership with organisations such as Nirantar Trust in Delhi, Vikalp in Gujarat, Queerala in Kerala, and Nirangal Trust in Tamil Nadu.
The team has proposed that textbook visuals should provide scope for “non-normative gender expression” and not limit sex and gender to binaries. NCERT’s new training material gives teachers ‘concrete ideas’ on how they can modify or add to existing content from textbooks published by the NCERT.
Sagnik Dutta, Assistant Professor at Jindal Global Law School, said he is glad as a non-binary person that the NCERT has taken up this issue as it has the capacity to reach teachers in various parts of Bharat outside big cities.
Education ‘advisor and strategist’ Meeta Sengupta also welcomed the ‘well-researched NCERT roadmap’ and said that teachers will need ‘coping strategies’ and support for building multi-gender exercises and handling associated classroom interactions. She said that ‘transgender people in India have been excluded from economic and social progress for too long’ and the new training material can ‘help in repairing this rift through sensitisation of teachers’.
There are 4.8 lakh transgenders in the country as per Census 2011, i.e. 0.003% of the then total population of 121 crore.
“The use of toilet, an infrastructural facility, is used to condition children into binary gender.”
Gender auditing of schools to discourage things like separate uniforms, separate rows for boys and girls in assembly, separate sports for boys and girls
“Suggestion for teachers: Talk to students about puberty blockers. Convey that these are available and accessible for those experiencing gender dysphoria, who may later identify as transgender”
There is even a suggestion of how history curriculum can be modified to highlight the ‘important role’ eunuchs played in the Mughal empire –
This is subtle indoctrination of children that Mughals were more ‘tolerant’ of transgenders than Hindu emperors or even current Hindu society. As pointed out by netizens, such recommendations manipulate the history of slavery and castration during Mughal tyranny, during which it was standard practice to castrate young boys for the sake of trading them as eunuchs to the imperial regime.
These boys were forcibly castrated, with their genitals cut off by a knife and many died out of such injuries. Also, eunuchs were considered loyal innermost guards by the emperor only because they were incapable of having affairs with the hundreds of concubines in the emperor’s harem. Since eunuchs did not have descendants/family, they had strong loyalty to their masters.
The Project Team
Now let’s take a closer look at one of the members of the project team that worked on this roadmap:
Vikramaditya Sahai is a post graduate in political science from Delhi University. They (chosen pronoun) have previously worked as faculty at Ambedkar University and as a consultant for a project at TISS, Mumbai. Their instagram account makes for interesting viewing.
Here are some tweets from Sahai, which reflect shocking anti-Hindu bigotry:
Many expressed their shock at the way things are headed with school education in Bharat. Instead of upping our standards in language, maths, science, computing, humanities to compete with the rest of the world as we enter the age of AI (Artificial Intelligence), we are going off on a tangent.
Bharat and Hindu society have historically been accepting of people of the tritya prakriti (third gender) unlike fundamentalist Abrahamic societies where homosexuality is seen as a sin punishable by death.
But introducing such adult and complex topics about human sexuality in schools is a dangerous exercise. For eg. there have been many recorded instances of children getting confused about their gender identities, going for sex change operations and then regretting it later. Being empathetic towards those who experience such feelings and counselling them separately is one thing, but filling young minds with such ideas when they should be focused on core academics in their youth is a recipe for disaster.
More reactions and commentary on this topic can be seen in this article.